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Website Design – Form and Function

by | Mar 24, 2011 | Website Management

Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in spiritual union. Frank Lloyd Wright, 1908

Frank Lloyd Wright, a renowned American architect, couldn’t have possibly known back in the early twentieth century when he spoke those words that we’d still be following this mantra in the early twenty-first century and applying it to web design.

But, what was true then is still true today. A website needs to be very functional and look good. This is more difficult than you would think. If you’ve spent any time surfing the web you have most certainly seen websites that have great looking flash intros and graphics but you were unable to find the information you were looking for. But then again, studies have been done that track web reader’s eye movement and they prove our eyes are attracted to images so you cannot ignore the fact that design matters.

So what is the answer?

A good combination of design and functionality can have a remarkable impact on the success of your website. Therefore, it is important to avoid the temptation to ‘over-design’ and focus on the goal of your website. In other words, you need to keep the “end in mind” and then develop your website to accomplish those objectives. Once you are clear about the objectives you should make sure to include the following components:

  1. Pleasing design – Be sure to work with a web designer that is familiar with the best practices related to web eye-tracking studies. Eye-tracking studies reveal what users are truly interested in by tracing the movement of their eyes. Knowing this will tell the designer how to structure the site and incorporate design to best take advantage of the limited amount of time that users spend on your site.
  2. Intuitive Navigation – It is critical that you provide the website visitor direction and guide them where you want them to go. There is a way to create navigation that is more likely to take the reader step-by-step through your site. By guiding them through your website they are more likely to take the action you identified at the beginning of your website development/redesign process.
  3. Compelling content – Your website content must provide good information to the reader. Web readers have notoriously short attention spans. Therefore, your content must be very relevant and of the highest quality. In addition, you must remember that your content must not only work for human readers, but the search engines as well. Your content must be keyword rich so that the people who need the information that you provide can find it.
  4. Call to action – Every website should have an objective that it wants the reader to complete. It can be anything from signing up for your newsletter to purchasing your product. The call-to-action must be clearly articulated and easy to do. Ideally, your call-to-action is measurable because then you can determine the effectiveness of your website.

Finding that ideal combination of form and function takes time, but by concentrating on the primary purpose of your website you might just find that your perfect balance reveals itself!

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"A human being experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separate from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. "
- Dr. Albert Einstein